My favorite Billie recording is “Live at Storyville”, an out of print vinyl album that I found in a discount bin when I was age 16. I played that lp until the scratches were louder than the music coming out of the grooves. There is always a strong reaction to great art: you either love it or hate it. In Billie’s case, I loved it. Her singing grabbed my attention, stood me on my ear, and got me thinking outside the box. She was a true original. She swung like mad. She bled her heart out with raw emotion. She dug deep into her well of joy and pain until both were undeniably palpable. That edgy, wiry voice was well-suited to her horn-like phrasing. She had a knack for convincingly hammering home a lyric by repeating a single note through several measures of chord changes with such impeccable musicianship that it sounded effortless and natural and right. Her singing style influenced greats like Anita O’Day, Peggy Lee, and countless others. Billie was the ebodiment of a jazz vocalist: intelligent, free and swinging.
Dina Blade, vocalist
Seattle, Wa. USA